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As Australia’s wellbeing and resilience in mental health continues to decline, an Australian academic has developed a new strategy using imagination to facilitate hope, optimism and purpose.

“Imagination is a skill we can learn to build resilience and a sense of joy,” said Griffith University Industry Fellow and the founder of Imagination Sessions, Dawn Adams.

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The concept of Imagination Sessions came about during a time that inspired many Australians to find alternative ways to care for their own mental health – the Covidlockdowns.

Ms Adams said she frequently turned to her own imagination to gain respite from the isolation of lockdowns in the pandemic, and in doing so, she discovered its many wellbeing benefits. 

“I would return from these journeys, all in my mind, refreshed and so much happier,” she said.

According to the 2023 State of the Future of Work Report, physical and mental health in Australia’s workplaces in a poorer state than when the pandemic began.

This, combined with Ms Adams’ own experiences, she embarked on a research program, analysing the unique skills required to conduct effective imagination, through the lens of neuroscientists, psychologists, business analysts, philosophers and more.

“I realised I could make a difference through imagination, to breed happiness, laughter and joy,” she said.

Ms Adams now runs experiential sessions that invite attendees into their imaginations to enhance wellbeing.

But according to Ms Adams, the benefits of effective imagination go beyond the simple nurturing of mental health and well-being. In fact, she said, imagination can help in many facets of life, including the development of leadership skills,
employability, developing problem solving skills such as decision making and critical thinking. She said imagination is also an effective springboard for ideas generation.

Ms Adams said the Kantar Insight 2030 report found companies with a primary focus on imagination over-performed compared to their rivals.

“It’s extraordinary, that tapping into a uniquely human skill like imagination has such widespread benefits,” Ms Adams said.

While the concept is ground-breaking here in Australia, the use of imagination to improve mental health is gaining momentum globally.

“I found fascinating an article posted by A Lust for Life, an Irish mental health charity, that identified an overlap between wellbeing and imagination. They describe imagination as the ‘beating heart of invention’ while reminding it’s also about
building a life of meaning and purpose.

“Yet how many of us have ever been taught to use this superpower to its full potential,” they ask describing imagination as “an under-appreciated yet critical element of creativity and innovation”.

The first step to unlocking those imaginative ideas, according to the charity, is to suspend judgement.

“When I started Imagination Session, all I wanted was to make people feel a little more happy, to access a greater sense of joy. But now, I see its power, that imagination is how we shape and change our world.”


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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a widely published journalist with more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industries.

Specialising in health, business, property and finance, Nicole writes regularly for numerous high-profile newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Before moving into freelance writing almost a decade ago, Nicole was an on-air reporter with Channel Nine and a newspaper journalist with News Limited.

Nicole is also the Director of content and communications agency Stella Communications ( and a children's author.